Late fumble foils Grambling’s valiant comeback

There were some stirring moments for Grambling’s football team Saturday before the final horn in a 33-28 loss to Jackson State on a beautiful afternoon at Eddie G. Robinson Memorial Stadium. Not the way it ended, though — they don’t come much tougher.

After a fierce back-and-forth battle, it looked like visiting Jackson State was going to put the game away with a 1-yard touchdown dive with in the final five minutes.

Then, a fumble, recovered in the end zone by Grambling’s Quincy Mitchell, and there was a chance to erase that five-point deficit. It required a length-of-the-field scoring drive.

Grambling responded in championship fashion, going 79 yards in seven plays with the clock winding down, to second-and-goal inside the visitors’ 1. But instead of a game-winning touchdown plunge, the G-Men lost a fumble and Jackson State recovered with 1:04 remaining.

The game did not have its fifth lead change. The home crowd did not leave happy, although upon reflection, simply having the occasion to resume playing football after a year of pandemic pause was an even bigger win.

Grambling coach Broderick Fobbs had stressed the fundamentals with his squad throughout preseason and especially leading into game week. It was about minimizing mistakes (didn’t happen) and overcoming adversity (certainly did).

“They made fewer mistakes than we did. You can’t come out and play a first half like we played, then fight your way back into the game only to give it away again at the end,” he said. “This is football, and it’s a game of mistakes as well as execution.”

Grambling opened the contest looking shaky, with early penalties and mishaps helping JSU snag a quick 7-0 lead. But the Tigers, with quarterback Geremy HIckbottom helping lead the charge, rallied into a 14-7 advantage.

Jackson State had its finest moments in the second period, scoring on three straight possessions while holding the Tigers to two three-and-outs to surge ahead 27-14 by halftime.

Grambling held Jackson State to just one touchdown afterwards, but it proved to be the decisive one, posted with 12:35 left to play to erase the 28-27 lead by the host Tigers. The G-Men had drawn within a touchdown midway through the third period, after an 11-play, 68-yard drive, and moved on top 28-27 with 13:55 to go on a 16-play, 80-yard march.

Not long afterward came the most unkind ending to a valiant comeback.

“All of the teams in this conference are pretty much evenly matched, so any time you give away points and opportunities and you miss tackles, you suffer the consequences. We were out of the game for a little while. We fought back and played well in the second half, just had the mistake at the end,” said Fobbs. “But at the end of the day, I can’t be more proud of my kids – because we fought back to get in position to play a football game, so hat’s off to them.”

Grambling goes to Arlington, Texas, on Saturday to meet Prairie View A&M in a 3 p.m. contest at Globe Life Park, the former home of the Texas Rangers.

Photo: by Tony Valentino/courtesy GSUTigers.com


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